TOWARDS the back end of Thelma Plum's sold-out Cambridge Hotel show last Friday night it became apparent why her music strikes a chord with her audience.
On The Ronnettes-style Homecoming Queen - which addresses the issues of teen body image and racism - Plum defiantly sang, "I am a woman now, I feel beautiful, and I love myself."
The proud Gamilaraay woman performed it like she truly believed it. The rousing applause from the predominantly female audience provided the affirmation.
Plum is a curious performer. She doesn't come across as naturally extroverted or charismatic.
You sense she's still not completely comfortable in front of large crowds, despite the majority of her tour attracting sold-out audiences on the back of her acclaimed indie-pop debut album Better In Blak.
But perhaps that's the appeal. Plum is fairly ordinary (in a good way) and genuinely likable as she told stories of accidentally texting Paul Kelly that she was sick with nervousness before meeting him or how she pretended to be vegan to impress another musician she fancied, before her love of prosciutto exposed the lie.
The last time Plum performed at the Cambridge was two years ago when she supported Perth band San Cisco. On that night she was vocally flat and disinterested.
But armed with her impressive debut album, this was a completely different Thelma Plum.
Better In Blak was only released a month ago, but it's already resonated deeply. Plum performed all 12 tracks in her 15-song set, opening with a driving rendition of Not Angry Anymore where it was difficult to hear her vocal over the jubilant crowd.
While you cannot fault Plum's sweet hypnotic vocals or her ability to explore heartbreak and defiance in finely-crafted pop songs, her stage presence was awkward.
Plum constantly wandered the stage, singing out to the audience, but seemed unsure how to use her hands or body.
She appeared far more comfortable when her three-piece band left the stage momentarily so she could play electric guitar alone on the delicate Nick Cave and Do You Ever Get So Sad You Can't Breathe.
Yet as the show continued Plum's confidence grew. It doesn't hurt when you possess beautiful songs like Thulumaay Gii - dedicated to her mother working behind the merchandise desk - and Don't Let A Good Girl Down, which features possibly the best use of the word "icky" in pop music.
The big crowd-pleasing anthem Better In Blak closed out the main set, before Plum returned alone to perform her debut single Father Said, released back in 2012 when Plum was a wide-eyed teen folk singer.
A moody electronic version of Made For You - Plum's collaboration with Paul Kelly and Paul McCartney - provided a eerily atmosphere before the crowd were treated with another mass singalong in Clumsy Love to say goodnight.
While Plum may be finally enjoying success after years of hype, you suspect her supporting act Elle Graham, aka Woodes, could be in a similar position next year when her debut album is finally released.
The north Queenslander was dressed in a kimono and warm smile, as she presented an intriguing visual of skipping, crouching and bouncing on her toes as if performing a yoga routine.
Woodes' blend of warm electronic indie-pop also possesses some quality tunes. Her latest single How Long I'd Wait is proof that after two promising EPs in Woodes (2016) and Golden Hour (2018), her songwriting is rapidly progressing as she approaches that long-awaited debut album.